Wellesley's list of societies and social clubs is not short, but the conditions of membership are carefully guarded. As early as the second year of the college, five societies came into existence: of these, the Beethoven Society and the Microscopical—which started with a membership of six and an exhibition under three microscopes at its first meeting—seem to have been open to any who cared to join; the other three—the Zeta Alpha and Phi Sigma societies founded in November, 1876, and the Shakespeare in January, 1877—were mutually exclusive. The two Greek letter societies were literary in aim, and their early programs consisted in literary papers and oral debates. The Shakespeare Society, for many years a branch of the London Shakespeare Society, devoted itself to the study and dramatic presentation of Shakespeare. Its first open-air play was "As You Like It", given in 1889; and until 1912, when it conformed to the new plan of biennial rotation, this society gave a Shakespearean play every year at Commencement.
In 1881, Zeta Alpha and Phi Sigma were discontinued by the faculty, because of pressure of academic work, but in 1889 they were reorganized, and gradually their programs were extended to include dramatic work, poetic plays, and masques. The Phi Sigma Society gives its masque—sometimes an original one—on alternate years just before the Christmas vacation; and Zeta Alpha alternates with the Classical Society at Commencement. The Zeta Alpha Masque of 1913, a charming dramatization in verse of an old Hindu legend by Elizabeth McClellan of the class of 1913, was one of the notable events of Commencement time, a pageant of poetic beauty and oriental dignity; and in 1915 Florence Wilkinson Evans's adaptation of the lovely old poem "Aucassin and Nicolette", was given for the second time.
In 1889, the Art Society—known since 1894 as Tau Zeta Epsilon—was founded; and, alternating with the Shakespeare play, it gives in the spring a "Studio Reception", at which pictures from the old masters, with living models, are presented. The effects of lighting and color are so carefully studied, and the compositions of the originals are so closely followed that the illusion is sometimes startling; it is as if real Titians, Rembrandts, and Carpaccios hung on the wails of the Wellesley Barn. In 1889, also, the Glee and Banjo clubs were formed.
In 1891, the Agora, the political society, came into existence. The serious intellectual quality of its work does honor to the college, and its open debates, at which it has sometimes represented the House of Commons, sometimes one or the other of the American Chambers of Congress, are marked events in the college calendar.
In 1892, Alpha Kappa Chi, the Classical Society, was organized, and of late years its Greek play, presented during Commencement week, has surpassed both the senior play and the Shakespeare play in dramatic rendering and careful study of the lines. Gilbert Murray's translation of the "Medea", presented in 1914, was a performance of which Wellesley was justly proud. Usually the Wellesley plays are better as pageants than as dramatic productions, but the Classical Society is setting a standard for the careful literary interpretation and rendering of dramatic texts, which should prove stimulating to all the societies and class organizations.
The senior play is one of the chief events of Commencement week, but the students have not always been fully awake to their dramatic opportunity. If college theatricals have any excuse for being, it is not found in attempts to compete with the commercial stage and imitate the professional actor, but rather in dramatic revivals such as the Harvard Delta Upsilon has so spiritedly presented, or in the interpretation of the poetic drama, whether early or late, which modern theaters with their mixed audiences cannot afford to present. The college audience is always a selected audience, and has a right to expect from the college players dramatic caviare. That Wellesley is moving in the right direction may be seen by reading a list of her senior plays, among which are the "Countess Cathleen", by Yeats, Alfred Noyes's "Sherwood", and in 1915 "The Piper" by Josephine Peabody Marks.
But Wellesley's recreation is not all rehearsed and formal. May Day, when the seniors roll their hoops in the morning, and all the college comes out to dance on the green and eat ice-cream cones in the afternoon, is full of spontaneous jollity. Before the burning of College Hall, the custom had arisen of cleaning house on May Day, and six o'clock in the morning saw the seniors out with pails and mops, scrubbing and decorating the many statues which kept watch in the beloved old corridors.
One of these statutes had become in some sort the genius of College Hall. Of heroic size, a noble representation of womanly force and tranquillity, Anne Whitney's statue of Harriet Martineau had watched the stream of American girlhood flow through "the Center" and surge around the palms for twenty-eight years. The statue was originally made at the request of Mrs. Maria Weston Chapman, the well-known abolitionist and dear friend of Miss Martineau; but after Mrs. Chapman's death, it was Miss Whitney's to dispose of, and, representing as it did her ideal modern woman, she gave it in 1886 to Wellesley, where modern womanhood was in the making. In later years, irreverent youth took playful liberties with "Harriet", using her much as a beloved spinster aunt is used by fond but familiar young nieces. No freshman was considered properly matriculated until she had been dragged between the rungs of Miss Martineau's great marble chair; May Day always saw "Aunt Harriet" rise like Diana fresh from her bath, to be decked with more or less becoming furbelows; and as the presiding genius in the lighter columns of College News, her humor—an acquired characteristic—was merrily appreciated. Of all the lost treasures of College Hall she is perhaps the most widely mourned.
The pretty little Society houses, dotted about the campus, also give the students opportunity to entertain their guests, both formally and informally, and during the months following the fire, when Wellesley was cramped for space, they exercised a generous hospitality which put all the college in their debt.
As the membership in the Shakespeare and Greek letter societies is limited to between forty and fifty members in each society, the great majority of the students are without these social privileges, but the Barn Swallows, founded in 1897, to which every member of the college may belong if she wishes, gives periodic entertainments in the "Barn" which go far to promote general good feeling and social fellowship. The first president of the Barn Swallows, Mary E. Haskell, '97, says that it arose as an Everybody's Club, to give buried talents a chance. "Suddenly we adjured the Trustees by Joy and Democracy to bless our charter, to be gay once a week, and when they gave the Olympic nod we begged for the Barn to be gay in—and they gave that too.
"It was a grim joy parlor; rough old floor, bristly with splinters, few windows, no plank walk, no stage, no partitions, no lighting. We hung tin reflectored lanterns on a few of the posts,—thicker near the stage end,—and opened the season with an impromptu opera of the Brontes'." To Professor Charlotte F. Roberts, Wellesley '80, the Barn Swallows owe their happy name.
Besides these more formal organizations there are a number of department clubs, the Deutsche Verein, the Alliance Francaise, the Philosophy Club, the Economics Club, and informal groups such as the old Rhymesters' Club, which flourished in the late nineties, the Scribblers' which seems to have taken its place and enlarged its scope, the Social Study Circle, the little Socialist Club, and others through which the students express their intellectual and social interests.
Of Wellesley's many festivities and playtimes it would take too long to tell: of her Forensic Burnings, held when the last junior forensic for the year is due; of her processional serenades, with Chinese lanterns; of her singing on the chapel steps in the evenings of May and June. These well-beloved customs have been establishing themselves year by year more firmly in undergraduate hearts, but it is not always possible to trace them to their "first time." Most of them date back to the later years of the nineteenth century, or the first of the twentieth. Wellesley's musical cheer seems to have waked the campus echoes first in the spring of 1890, as a result of a prize offered in November, 1889, although as far back as 1880 there is mention of a cheer. The musical cheer has so much beauty and dignity, both near at hand and at a distance, that many of the early alumnae and the faculty wish it might some time quite supersede the ugly barking sounds, imitated from the men's colleges, with which the girls are fain to evince their approval and celebrate their triumphs. They invariably end their barking with the musical cheer, however, keeping the best for the last, and relieving the tortured graduate ear.
Formal athletics at Wellesley developed from the gymnasium practice, the rowing on the lake, and the Tree Day dancing. In the early years, the class crews used to row on the lake and sing at sunset, in their heavy, broad-bottomed old tubs; and from these casual summer evenings "Float" has been evolved—Wellesley's water pageant—when Lake Waban is dotted with gay craft, and the crews in their slim, modern, eight-oared shells, display their skill. This is the festival which the public knows best, for unlike Tree Day, to which outsiders have been admitted on only three occasions, "Float" has always been open to friendly guests. Year by year the festival grows more elaborate. Chinese junks, Indian canoes, Venetian gondolas, flower boats from fairyland, glide over the bright sunset waters, and the crews in their old traditional star pattern anchor together and sing their merry songs. There are new songs every spring, for each crew has its own song, but there are two of the old songs which are heard at every Wellesley Float, "Alma Mater", and the song of the lake, that Louise Manning Hodgkins wrote for the class of '87.
Lake of gray at dawning day, In soft shadows lying,— Waters kissed by morning mist, Early breezes sighing,— Fairy vision as thou art, Soon thy fleeting charms depart. Every grace that wins the heart, Like our youth is flying.
Lake of blue, a merry crew, Cheer of thee will borrow. Happy hours to-day are ours, Weighted by no sorrow. Other years may bring us tears, Other days be full of fears, Only hope the craft now steers. Cares are for the morrow.
Lake of white at holy night, In the moonlight gleaming,— Softly o'er the wooded shore, Silver radiance streaming,— On thy wavelets bear away Every care we've known to-day, Bring on thy returning way Peaceful, happy dreaming.
After the singing, the Hunnewell cup is presented for the crew competition; and with the darkness, the fireworks begin to flash up from the opposite shore of the lake.
Besides the rowing clubs, in the first decade, there were tennis clubs, and occasional outdoor "meets" for cross-country runs, but apparently there was no regular organization combining in one association all the separate clubs until 1896-1897, when we hear of the formation of a "New Athletic Association." There is also record of a Field Day on May 29, 1899. In 1902, we find the "new athletics"—evidently a still newer variety than those of 1897—"recognized by the trustees"; and the first Field Day under this newest regime occurred on November 3, 1902. All the later Field Days have been held in the late autumn, at the end of the sports season, which now includes a preliminary season in the spring and a final season in the autumn. An accepted candidate for an organized sport must hold herself ready to practice during both seasons, unless disqualified by the physical examiner, and must confine herself to the one sport which she has chosen. During both seasons the members may be required to practice three times a week.
The Athletic Association, under its present constitution, dates from March, 1908. All members of the college are eligible for membership, all members of the organized sports are ipso facto members of the association, and the Director of Physical Training is a member ex officio. An annual contribution of one dollar is solicited from each member of the association, and special funds are raised by voluntary contribution. In the year 1914-1915, the association included about twelve hundred members, not all of them dues-paying, however.
The president of the Athletic Association is always a senior; the vice president, who is also chairman of the Field Day Committee, and the treasurer are juniors; the secretary and custodian are sophomores. The members of the Organized Sports elect their respective heads, and each sport is governed by its own rules and regulations and by such intersport legislation as is enacted by the Executive Board, not in contravention to regulations by the Department of Physical Training and Hygiene. In this way the association and the department work together for college health.
The organized sports at Wellesley are: rowing, golf, tennis, basket ball, field hockey, running, archery, and baseball. The unorganized sports include walking, riding, swimming, fencing, skating, and snowshoeing. Each sport has its instructor, or instructors, from the Department of Physical Training. The members are grouped in class squads governed by captains, and each class squad furnishes a class team whose members are awarded numerals, before a competitive class event, on the basis of records of health, discipline, and skill. Honors, blue W's worn on the sweaters, are awarded on a similar basis. Interclass competitions for trophies are held on Field Day, and the association hopes, with the development of outdoor baseball, to establish interhouse competitions also. The gala days are, besides Field Day in the autumn, the Indoor Meet in the spring at the end of the indoor practice, "Float" in June, and in winter, when the weather permits, an Ice Carnival on the lake.
Through the Athletic Association, new tennis courts have been laid out, the golf course has been remodeled, and the boathouse repaired. In 1915, it was making plans for a sheltered amphitheater, bleachers, and a baseball diamond; and despite the fact that dues are not obligatory, more and more students are coming to appreciate the work of the Association and to assume responsibility toward it.
Wellesley does not believe in intercollegiate sports for women. In this opinion, the women's colleges seem to be agreed; it is one of the points at which they are content to diverge from the policy of the men's colleges. Wellesley's sports are organized to give recreation and healthful exercise to as many students as are fit and willing to take part in them. Some students even disapprove of interclass competitions, and it is thought that the interhouse teams for baseball will serve as an antidote to rivalry between the classes.
The only intercollegiate event in which Wellesley takes part is the intercollegiate debate. In this contest, Wellesley has been twice beaten by Vassar, but in March, 1914, she won in the debate against Mt. Holyoke, and in March, 1915, in the triangular debate, she defeated both Vassar and Mt. Holyoke.
In September, 1904, the college was granted a charter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and the Wellesley Chapter,—installed January 17, 1905, is known as the Eta of Massachusetts.
THE FIRE: AN INTERLUDE
On the morning of March 17, 1914, College Hall, the oldest and largest building on the Wellesley campus, was destroyed by fire. No one knows how the fire originated; no one knows who first discovered it. Several people, in the upper part of the house, seem to have been awakened at about the same time by the smoke, and all acted with clear-headed promptness. The night was thick with fog, and the little wind "that heralds the dawn" was not strong enough to disperse the heavy vapors, else havoc indeed might have been wrought throughout the campus and the sleeping village.
At about half past four o'clock, two students at the west end of College Hall, on the fourth floor, were awakened and saw a fiery glow reflected in their transom. Getting up to investigate, they found the fire burning in the zoological laboratory across the corridor, and one of them immediately set out to warn Miss Tufts, the registrar, and Miss Davis, the Director of the Halls of Residence, both of whom lived in the building; the other girl hurried off to find the indoor watchman. At the same time, a third girl rang the great Japanese bell in the third floor center. In less than ten minutes after this, every student was out of the building.
The story of that brief ten minutes is packed with self-control and selflessness; trained muscles and minds and souls responded to the emergency with an automatic efficiency well-nigh unbelievable. Miss Tufts sent the alarm to the president, and then went to the rooms of the faculty on the third floor and to the officers of the Domestic Department on the second floor. Miss Davis set a girl to ringing the fast-fire alarm. And down the four long wooden staircases the girls in kimonos and greatcoats came trooping, each one on the staircase she had been drilled to use, after she had left her room with its light burning and its corridor door shut. In the first floor center the fire lieutenants called the roll of the fire squads, and reported to Miss Davis, who, to make assurance doubly sure, had the roll called a second time. No one said the word "fire"—this would have been against the rules of the drill. For a brief space there was no sound but "the ominous one of falling heavy brands." When Miss Davis gave the order to go out, the students walked quietly across the center, with embers and sparks falling about them, and went out on the north side through the two long windows at the sides of the front door.
And all this in ten minutes!
Meanwhile, Professor Calkins, who does not live at the college but had happened to spend the night in the Psychology office on the fifth floor, had been one of the earliest to awake, had wakened other members of the faculty and helped Professor Case and her wheel-chair to the first floor, and also had sent a man with an ax to break in Professor Irvine's door, which was locked. As it happened, Professor Irvine was spending the night in Cambridge, and her room was not occupied. Most of the members of the faculty seem to have come out of the building as soon as the students did, but two or three, in the east end away from the fire, lingered to save a very few of their smaller possessions.
The students, once out, were not allowed to re-enter the building, and they did not attempt to disobey, but formed a long fire line which was soon lengthened by girls from other dormitories and extended from the front of College Hall to the library. Very few things above the first floor were saved, but many books, pictures, and papers went down this long line of students to find temporary shelter in the basement of the library. Associate Professor Shackford, who wrote the account of the fire in the College News, from which these details are taken, tells us how Miss Pendleton, patrolling this busy fire line and questioning the half-clad workers, was met with the immediate response, even from those who were still barefooted, "I'm perfectly comfortable, Miss Pendleton", "I'm perfectly all right, Miss Pendleton." Miss Shackford adds:
"At about five o'clock, a person coming from the hill saw College Hall burning between the dining-room and Center, apparently from the third floor up to the roof, in high, clear flames with very little smoke. Suddenly the whole top seemed to catch fire at once, and the blaze rushed downward and upward, leaping in the dull gray atmosphere of a foggy morning. With a terrific crash the roof fell in, and soon every window in the front of College Hall was filled with roaring flames, surging toward the east, framed in the dark red brick wall which served to accentuate the lurid glow that had seized and held a building almost one eighth of a mile long. The roar of devastating fury, the crackle of brands, the smell of burning wood and melting iron, filled the air, but almost no sound came from the human beings who saw the irrepressible blaze consume everything but the brick walls.
"The old library and the chapel were soon filled with great billows of flame, which, finding more space for action, made a spectacle of majestic but awful splendor. Eddies of fire crept along the black-walnut bookcases, and all that dark framework of our beloved old library. By great strides the blaze advanced, until innumerable curling, writhing flames were rioting all through a spot always hushed 'in the quiet and still air of delightful studies.' The fire raged across the walls, in and around the sides and the beautiful curving tops of the windows that for so many springs and summers had framed spaces of green grass on which fitful shadows had fallen, to be dreamed over by generations of students. In the chapel, tremendous waves swelled and glowed, reaching almost from floor to ceiling, as they erased the texts from the walls, demolished the stained-glass windows, defaced, but did not completely destroy the college motto graven over them, and, in convulsive gusts swept from end to end of the chapel, pouring in and out of the windows in brilliant light and color. Seen from the campus below, the burning east end of the building loomed up magnificent even in the havoc and desolation it was suffering."
At half past eight o'clock, four hours after the first alarm was sounded, there stood on the hill above the lake, bare, roofless walls and sky-filled arches as august as any medieval castle of Europe. Like Thomas the Rhymer, they had spent the night in fairyland, and waked a thousand years old. Romance already whispered through their dismantled, endless aisles. King Arthur's castle of Camelot was not more remote from to-day than College Hall from the twentieth-century March morning. Weeks, months, a little while it stood there, vanishing—like old enchanted Merlin—into the impenetrable prison of the air. There will be other houses on that hilltop, but never one so permanent as the dear house invisible; the double Latin cross, the ten granite columns, the Center ever green with ageless palms, the "steadfast crosses, ever pointing the heavenward way",—to eyes that see, these have never disappeared.
At half past eight o'clock, in the crowded college chapel, President Pendleton was saying to her dazed and stricken flock, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God,—who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" And when she had given thanks, in prayer, for so many lives all blessedly safe, there came the announcement, so quiet, so startling, that the spring term would begin on April 7, the date already set in the college calendar. This was the voice of one who actually believed that faith would remove mountains. And it did. By the faith of President Pendleton, Wellesley College is alive to-day. She did literally and actually cast the mountain into the sea on that seventeenth of March, 1914. St. Patrick himself never achieved a greater miracle.
She knew that two hundred and sixteen people were houseless; that the departments of Zoology, Geology, Physics, and Psychology, had lost their laboratories, their equipment, their lecture rooms; that twenty-eight recitation rooms, all the administrative offices, the offices of twenty departments, the assembly hall, the study hall, had all been swept away. Yet, in a little less than three weeks, there had sprung up on the campus a temporary building containing twenty-nine lecture and recitation rooms, thirteen department offices, fifteen administrative offices, three dressing rooms, and a reception room. Plumbing, steam heat, electricity, and telephone service had been installed. A week after college opened for the spring term, classes were meeting in the new building. During that first week, offices and classes had been scattered all over the campus,—in the Society houses, in the basements of dormitories, the Art Building, the Chemistry Building, the Gymnasium, the basement of the Library, the Observatory, the Stone Hall Botany Laboratories, Billings Hall; all had opened their doors wide. The two hundred and sixteen residents of old College Hall had all been housed on the campus; it meant doubling up in single rooms, but the doublets persuaded themselves and the rest of the college that it was a lark.
This spirit of helpfulness and cheer began on the day of the fire, and seems to have acquired added momentum with the passing months. Clothes, books, money, were loaned as a matter of course. By half past nine o'clock in the morning, the secretary of the dean had written out from memory the long schedule of the June examinations, to be posted at the beginning of the spring term. Members of the faculty were conducting a systematic search for salvage among the articles that had been dumped temporarily in the "Barn" and the library; homes had been found for the houseless teachers, most of whom had lost everything they possessed; several members of the faculty had no permanent home but the college, and their worldly goods were stored in the attic from which nothing could be saved. It is said that when President Pendleton, in chapel, told the students to go home as soon as they had collected their possessions, "an unmistakable ripple of girlish laughter ran through the dispossessed congregation." This was the Franciscan spirit in which Wellesley women took their personal losses. For the general losses, all mourned together, but with hope and courage. In the Department of Physics, all the beautiful instruments which Professor Whiting had been so wisely and lovingly procuring, since she first began to equip her student-laboratory in 1878, were swept away; Geology and Psychology suffered only less; but the most harrowing losses were those in the Department of Zoology, where, besides the destruction of laboratories and instruments, and the special library presented to the department by Professor Emeritus Mary A. Willcox, "the fruits of years of special research work which had attracted international attention have been destroyed.... Professor Marion Hubbard had devoted her energies for six years to research in variation and heredity in beetles.... In view of the increasing interest in eugenics, scientists awaited the results with keen anticipation, but all the specimens, notes, and apparatus were swept away." Professor Robertson, the head of the department, who is an authority on certain deep-sea forms of life, had just finished her report on the collections from the dredging expedition of the Prince of Monaco, which had been sent her for identification; and the report and the collections all were lost.
Among the few things saved were some of the ivies and the roses which the classes had planted year by year; these the fire had not injured; and a slip from the great wistaria vine on the south side of College Hall has proved to be alive and vigorous. The alumnae gavel and the historic Tree Day spade were also unharmed. But that no life was lost outweighs all the other losses, and this was due to the fire drill which, in one form or another, has been carried on at Wellesley since the earliest years of the college. Doctor Edward Abbott, writing of Wellesley in Harper's Magazine for August, 1876, says:
"Whoever heard of a fire brigade manned by women? There is one at Wellesley, for it is believed that however incombustible the college building may be, the students should be taught to put out fire,... and be trained to presence of mind and familiarity with the thought of what ought to be done in case of fire." From time to time the drill has been strengthened and changed in detail, but in 1902, when Miss Olive Davis, Director of Houses of Residence, was appointed by Miss Hazard to be responsible for an efficient fire drill, the modern system was instituted. An article in College News explains that "the organization of the present fire-drill system is much like the old one. With the adoption of Student Government, it was put into the hands of the students. Each year a fire chief is elected from the student-body, by the students. This girl is a senior. She is counted an officer of the Student Government Association, and is responsible to Miss Davis. Then at meetings held at the beginning of the fall term, each dormitory elects one fire captain, who in turn appoints lieutenants under her,—one for every twenty or twenty-five girls.
"The directions for a fire drill are:
"Upon hearing the alarm (five rings of the house bell),
"1. Close your windows, doors, and transoms.
"2. Turn on the electric lights.
"3. March in single file, and as quickly as possible, downstairs, and answer to your roll call.
"Each lieutenant is responsible for all the girls on her list. After the ringing of the alarm, she must look into every room in her district and see that the directions have been complied with and the inmates have gone downstairs. If the windows and doors have not been shut, she must shut them. Then she goes downstairs and calls her roll (some lieutenants memorize their lists). When the lieutenants have finished, the captain calls the roll of the lieutenants, asking for the number absent in each district, and the number of windows and doors left open or lights not lighted, if any.
"The captains are required to hold two drills a month. At the regular meetings of the organization at which the fire chief presides and Miss Davis is often present, the captains report the dates of their drills, the time of day they were held, the number of absentees and their reasons, the time required to empty the building, and the order observed by the girls.
"Drills may be called by the captain at any time of the day or night. Frequently there were drills at College Hall when it was crowded with nonresident students, there for classes. In that case no roll was called, but merely the time required and the order reported. The penalty for non-attendance at fire drills is a fine of fifty cents, and a serious error credited to the absentee.
"There are devices such as blocking some of the staircases to train the girls for an emergency. It was being planned, just about the time College Hall burned, to have a fire drill there with artificial smoke, to test the girls. The system is still being constantly changed and improved. On Miss Davis's desk, the night of the fire, was the rough draft of a plan by which property could be better saved in case of fire, without more danger to life."
A few weeks after the burning of College Hall, a small fire broke out at the Zeta Alpha House, but was immediately quenched, and Associate Professor Josephine H. Batchelder, of the class of 1896, writing in College News of the self-control of the students, says:
"Perhaps the best example of 'Wellesley discipline since the fire,' occurred during the brief excitement occasioned by the Zeta Alpha House fire. A few days before this, a special plea had been made for good order and concentrated work in an overcrowded laboratory, where forty-six students, two divisions, were obliged to meet at the same time. On this morning, the professor looked up suddenly at sounds of commotion outside. 'Why, there's a fire-engine going back to the village!' she said. 'Oh, yes' responded a girl near the window. 'We saw it come up some time ago, but you were busy at the blackboard, so we didn't disturb you.' The professor looked over her roomful of students quietly at work. 'Well,' she said, 'I've heard a good deal of boasting about various things the girls were doing. Now I'm going to begin!'"
And this self-control does not fail as the months pass. The temporary administration building, which the students have dubbed the Hencoop, tests the good temper of every member of the college. Like Chaucer's wicker House of Rumors it is riddled with vagrant noises, but as it does not whirl about upon its base, it lacks the sanitary ventilating qualities of its dizzy prototype. On the south it is exposed to the composite, unmuted discords of Music Hall; on the north, the busy motors ply; within, nineteen of the twenty-six academic departments of the college conduct their classes, between walls so thin that every classroom may hear, if it will, the recitations to right of it, recitations to left of it, recitations across the corridor, volley and thunder. Though they all conscientiously try to roar as gently as any sucking dove. The effect upon the unconcentrated mind is something like—The cosine of X plus the ewig weibliche makes the difference between the message of Carlyle and that of Matthew Arnold antedate the Bergsonian theory of the elan vital minus the sine of Y since Barbarians, Philistines and Populace make up the eternal flux wo die citronen bluhn—but fortunately the Wellesley mind does concentrate, and uncomplainingly. The students are working in these murmurous classrooms with a new seriousness and a devotion which disregard all petty inconveniences and obstacles.
And the fire has kindled a flame of friendliness between faculty and students; it has burned away the artificial pedagogic barriers and quickened human relations. The flames were not quenched before the students had begun to plan to help in the crippled courses of study. They put themselves at the disposal of the faculty for all sorts of work; they offered their notes, their own books; they drew maps; they mounted specimens on slides for the Department of Zoology. In that crowded, noisy, one-story building there are not merely the teachers and the taught, but a body of tried friends, moving shoulder to shoulder on pilgrimage to truth.
THE LOYAL ALUMNAE
Ever since we became a nation, it has been our habit to congratulate ourselves upon the democratic character of our American system of education. In the early days, neither poverty nor social position was a bar to the child who loved his books. The daughter of the hired man "spelled down" the farmer's son in the district school; the poor country boy and girl earned their board and tuition at the academy by doing chores; American colleges made no distinctions between "gentlemen commoners" and common folk; and as our public school system developed its kindergartens, its primary, grammar, and high schools, free to any child living in the United States, irrespective of his father's health, social status, or citizenship, we might well be excused for thinking that the last word in democratic education had been spoken.
But since the beginning of the twentieth century, two new voices have begun to be heard; at first sotto voce, they have risen through a murmurous pianissimo to a decorous non troppo forte, and they continue crescendo,—the voice of the teacher and the voice of the graduate. And the burden of their message is that no educational system is genuinely democratic which may ignore with impunity the criticisms and suggestions of the teacher who is expected to carry out the system and the graduate who is asked to finance it.
The teachers' point of view is finding expression in the various organizations of public school teachers in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere, looking towards reform, both local and general; and in the movement towards the formation of a National Association of College Professors, started in the spring of 1913 by professors of Columbia and Johns Hopkins. At a preliminary meeting at Baltimore, in November, 1913, unofficial representatives from Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Clark, and Wisconsin were present, and a committee of twenty-five was appointed, with Professor Dewey of Columbia as chairman, "to arrange a plan of organization and draw up a constitution." President Schurman, in a report to the trustees of Cornell, makes the situation clear when he says:
"The university is an intellectual organization, composed essentially of devotees of knowledge—some investigating, some communicating, some acquiring—but all dedicated to the intellectual life.... The Faculty is essentially the university; yet in the governing boards of American universities the Faculty is without representation." President Schurman has suggested that one third of the board consist of faculty representatives. At Wellesley, since the founder's death, the trustees have welcomed recommendations from the faculty for departmental appointments and promotions, and this practice now obtains at Yale and Princeton; the trustees of Princeton have also voted voluntarily to confer on academic questions with a committee elected by the faculty.
An admirable exposition of the teachers' case is found in an article on "Academic Freedom" by Professor Howard Crosby Warren of the Department of Psychology at Princeton, in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1914. Professor Warren says that "In point of fact, the teacher to-day is not a free, responsible agent. His career is practically under the control of laymen. Fully three quarters of our scholars occupy academic positions; and in America, at least, the teaching investigator, whatever professional standing he may have attained, is subject to the direction of some body of men outside his own craft. As investigator he may be quite untrammeled, but as teacher, it has been said, he is half tyrant and half slave....
"The scholar is dependent for opportunity to practice his calling, as well as for material advancement, on a governing board which is generally controlled by clergymen, financiers, or representatives of the state....
"The absence of true professional responsibility, coupled with traditional accountability to a group of men devoid of technical training, narrows the outlook of the average college professor and dwarfs his ideals. Any serious departure from existing educational practice, such as the reconstruction of a course or the adoption of a new study, must be justified by a group of laymen and their executive agent....
"In determining the professional standing of a scholar and the soundness of his teachings, surely the profession itself should be the court of last appeal."
The point of view of the graduate has been defining itself slowly, but with increasing clearness, ever since the governing boards of the colleges made the very practical discovery that it was the duty and privilege of the alumnus to raise funds for the support of his Alma Mater. It was but natural that the graduates who banded together, usually at the instigation of trustees or directors and always with their blessing, to secure the conditional gifts proffered to universities and colleges by American multimillionaires, should quickly become sensitive to the fact that they had no power to direct the spending of the money which they had so efficiently and laboriously collected. An individual alumnus with sufficient wealth to endow a chair or to erect a building could usually give his gift on his own terms; but alumni as a body had no way of influencing the policy of the institutions which they were helping to support.
The result of this awakening has been what President Emeritus William Jewett Tucker of Dartmouth has called the "Alumni Movement." More than ten years ago, President Hadley of Yale was aware of the stirrings of this movement, when he said, "The influence of the public sentiment of the graduates is so overwhelming, that wherever there is a chance for its organized cooperation, faculties and students... are only too glad to follow it."
It would be incorrect, however, to give the impression that graduates had had absolutely no share in the government of their respective colleges before the Alumni Movement assumed its present proportions. Representatives of the alumni have had a voice in the affairs of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Self-perpetuating boards of trustees have elected to their membership a certain number of mature alumni. In some instances, as at Wellesley, the association of graduates nominates the candidates for graduate vacancies on these boards.
The benefits of alumnae representation on the Board of Trustees seem to have occurred to the alumnae and the trustees of Wellesley almost simultaneously. As early as June, 1888, the Alumnae Association of Wellesley appointed a committee to present to the trustees a request for alumnae representation on the Board; but as the Association met but once a year, results could not be achieved rapidly, and in June, 1889, the committee reported that it had not presented the petition as it had been informed unofficially that the possibility of alumnae representation was already under consideration by the trustees. In fact, the trustees, at a meeting held the day before the meeting of the Alumnae Association, this very June of 1889, had elected Mrs. Marian Pelton Guild, of the class of 1880, a life member of the Board.
But the alumnae, although appreciating the honor done them by the election of Mrs. Guild, still did not feel that the question of representation had been adequately met, and in June, 1891, a new committee was appointed with instructions to inform itself thoroughly as to methods employed in other colleges to insure the representation of the graduate body on governing boards, and also to convey to the trustees the alumnae's strong desire for representation of a specified character. And a second time the trustees forestalled the committee and, in a letter addressed to the Association and read at the annual meeting in June, 1892, made known their desire "to avail themselves of the cooperation of the Association" and to "cement more closely the bond" uniting the alumnae to the college by granting them further representation on the Board of Trustees. A committee from the Association was then appointed to discuss methods with a committee from the Board, and the results of their deliberations are given by Harriet Brewer Sterling, Wellesley, '86, in an article in the Wellesley Magazine for March, 1895. By the terms of a joint agreement between the Board and the Association, the Association has the right to nominate three members from its own number for membership on the Board. These nominees must be graduates of seven years' standing, not members of the college faculty. Graduates of less than three years' standing are not qualified to vote for the nominees. The nominations must be ratified by the Board of Trustees. The term of service of these alumnae trustees is six years, but a nominee is chosen every two years. In order to establish this method of rotation, two of the three candidates first nominated served for two and four years respectively, instead of six. The first election was held in the spring of 1894, the nominations were confirmed by the Board in November, and the three new trustees sat with the Board for the first time at the February meeting of 1895.
But as graduate organizations have increased in size, and membership has been scattered over a wider geographical area, it has become correspondingly difficult to get at the consensus of graduate opinion on college matters and to make sure that alumni, or alumnae, representatives actually do represent their constituents and carry out their wishes. And the Alumni Movement has arisen to meet the need for "greater unity of organization in alumni bodies."
In an article on Graduate Councils, in the Wellesley College News for April, 1914, Florence S. Marcy Crofut, Wellesley, '97, has collected interesting evidence of the impetus and expansion of this new factor in the college world. She writes, "More clearly than generalization would show, proofs lie in actual organization and accomplishments of the 'Alumni Movement' which has worked itself out in what may be called the Graduate Council Movement.... Since the organization of the Graduate Council of Princeton University in January, 1905, the Secretary, Mr. H. G. Murray, to whom Wellesley is deeply indebted, has received requests from twenty-nine colleges for information in regard to the work of Princeton's Council."
Among these twenty-nine colleges was Wellesley, and the plan for her Graduate Council, presented by the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association to the business meeting of the Association on June 21, 1911, and voted at that meeting, is a legitimate outgrowth of the ideals which led to the formation of the Alumnae Association in 1880. The preamble of the Association makes this clear when it says:
"Remembering the benefits we have received from our alma mater, we desire to extend the helpful associations of student life, and to maintain such relations to the college that we may efficiently aid in her upbuilding and strengthening, to the end that her usefulness may continually increase."
In an article describing the formation of the Wellesley Graduate Council, in the Wellesley College News for October 5, 1911, it is explained that, "From the time since the 1910-12 Executive Board (of the Alumnae Association) came into office, it has felt that there was need for a bond between the alumnae and the college administration; and it believes that this need will be met by a small representative (i.e. geographical) definitely chosen graduate body, which shall act as a clearing-house for the larger Alumnae Association. The Executive Board recognized also as an additional reason for organizing such a graduate body, that it was necessary to do so if the Wellesley Alumnae Association is to keep abreast of the activities in similar organizations." The purpose of the Council, as stated in 1911, is a fitting expansion of the Association's preamble of 1880:
"That, as our alumnae are increasing in large numbers and are scattered more and more widely, it will be of advantage to them and to the college that an organized, accredited group of alumnae shall be chosen from different parts of the country to confer with the college authorities on matters affecting both alumnae and undergraduate interests, as well as to furnish the college, by this group, the means of testing the sentiment of Wellesley women throughout the country on any matter."
There are advantages in not being a pioneer, and Wellesley has been able to profit by the experience of her predecessors in this movement, particularly Princeton and Smith. Membership in the Councils of Wellesley and Smith is essentially on the same geographical basis, but Wellesley is unique among the Councils in having a faculty representation. The relation between faculty and alumnae at Wellesley has always been markedly cordial, and in welcoming to the Council representatives of the faculty who are not graduates of the college, the alumnae would seem to indicate that their aims and ideals for their Alma Mater are at one with those of the faculty.
The membership of the Wellesley Graduate Council is composed of the president and dean of the college, ex officio; ten members of the Academic Council, chosen by that body, no more than two of whom may be alumnae; the three alumnae trustees; the members of the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association; and the councilors from the Wellesley clubs. As there were more than fifty Wellesley clubs already in existence in 1915, and every club of from twenty-five to one hundred members is allowed one councilor, and every club of more than one hundred members is allowed one councilor for each additional hundred, while neighboring clubs of less than twenty-five members may unite and be represented jointly by one councilor, it will be seen that the Council is a large and constantly growing body. Clubs such as the Boston Wellesley Club, and the New York Wellesley Club, which already had a large membership, received a tremendous impetus to increase their numbers after the formation of the Council. All members of the Council, with the exception of the president of the college and the dean, who are permanent, serve for two years.
The officers of the Graduate Council are the corresponding officers of the Alumnae Association, and also serve for two years. The Executive Committee of five members includes the president and secretary of the Council, an alumna trustee chosen annually from their own number by the three alumnae trustees, and two members at large.
The Council meets twice during the academic year, at the college; in February, for a period of three days or less, following the mid-year examinations, and in June, when the annual meeting is held at some time previous to the annual meeting of the Alumnae Association. In this respect the Wellesley Council again differs from that of Smith, whose committee of five makes but one official annual visit to the college,—in January. The "Vassar Provisional Alumnae Council", like the Wellesley Graduate Council, must hold at least two yearly meetings at the college, but unlike Wellesley, it elects a chairman who may not be at the same time the President of the Vassar Associate Alumnae. Bryn Mawr, we are told by Miss Crofut, has no Graduate Council corresponding exactly to the Councils of other colleges; but her academic committee of seven members meets "at least once a year with the President of the College and a committee of the faculty to discuss academic affairs."
The possibilities which lie before the Wellesley Council may be better understood if we enumerate a few of the activities undertaken by the Councils of other colleges. At Princeton, since 1905, more than two million five hundred thousand dollars has been raised by the Council's efforts. The Preceptorial System has been inaugurated and is being slowly developed. The university has been brought more prominently before preparatory schools. All the colleges are feeling the need of keeping in touch with the preparatory schools, not for the sake of mere numbers, but to secure the best students. Doctor Tucker has suggested that Dartmouth alumni endow outright, "substantial scholarships in high schools with which it is desirable to establish relations," and the suggestion is well worth the consideration of Wellesley women. The Yale Alumni Advisory Board has distributed to the "so-called Yale Preparatory Schools" and to schoolboys in many cities, a pamphlet on "Life at Yale." And Yale has also turned its attention to tuition charges, "academic-Sheffield relations", the future of the Yale Medical School, the Graduate Employment Bureau.
All of these Councils are concerned with the intellectual and moral tone of the undergraduates. Wellesley's Graduate Council has a Publicity Committee, one of whose functions is to prevent wrong reports of college matters from getting into the press. Mrs. Helene Buhlert Magee, Wellesley, '03, who was made Chairman of the Intercollegiate Committee on Press Bureaus, in 1914, and was at that time also the Manager of the Wellesley Press Board, reminds us that Wellesley is the only college trying to regulate its publicity through its alumnae clubs in different parts of the country, and gives us reason to hope that in time we shall have publicity agents trained in good methods, "since the members of each year's College Press Board, as they go forth, naturally become the press representatives of their respective clubs."
The Council has also a Committee on Undergraduate Activities, whose duty it is to "obtain information regarding the interests of the undergraduates and from time to time to make suggestions concerning the conduct of the same as they affect the alumnae or bring the college before the general public." This committee proposes a Rally Day and a Freshman Forum, to be conducted each year by a representative alumna equipped to set forth the ideals and principles held by the alumnae.
A third committee, bearing a direct relation to the undergraduate, is one on Vocational Guidance. In order to help students "to find their way to work other than teaching," and to "present a survey of all the possibilities open to women in the field of industry to-day," this committee welcomes the cooperation of Miss Florence Jackson, a graduate of Smith and for some years a member of the Department of Chemistry at Wellesley, who is now at the head of the Appointment Bureau of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston. Miss Jackson's practical knowledge of students, her wide acquaintance with vocational opportunities other than teaching, and her belief in the "value of the cultural course as a sound general foundation most valuable for providing the sense of proportion and vision necessary for the college woman who is to be a useful citizen," make her an ideal director of this branch of the Council's activities, and the college gladly promotes her work among the students; the seniors especially welcome her expert guidance.
In framing a model constitution for the use of alumnae classes, the Council has done a piece of work which should arouse the gratitude of all future historians of Wellesley, for the model constitution contains an article requiring each class to keep a record which shall contain brief information as to the members of the class and shall be published in the autumn following each reunion. lf these records are accurately kept, and if copies are placed on file in the College Library, accessible to investigators, the next historian of Wellesley will be spared the baffling paucity of information concerning the alumnae which has hampered her predecessor.
With ten members of the Academic Council on the Graduate Council, and with the president of the college herself an alumna, the relation between the faculty and the Graduate Council is intimate and helpful to both, in the best sense. Relations with the trustees, as a body, were slower in forming. President Pendleton, at the Council's fifth session,—in the third year of its existence,—reported the trustees as much interested in its formation. At the sixth session of the Council, in June, 1914, when the campaign for the Fire Fund was in full swing, Mr. Lewis Kennedy Morse, the able and devoted treasurer of the college, and member of the Board of Trustees, addressed the members upon "The Business Side of College Administration",—a talk as interesting as it was frank and friendly. In December, 1914, when the first of the new buildings was already going up on the site of old College Hall, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees invited a joint committee from the faculty and the alumnae to meet with them to discuss the architectural plans and possibilities for the "new Wellesley." The Alumnae Committee consisted of eleven members and included representatives "from '83 to 1913, and from Colorado on the west to Massachusetts on the east." Its chairman was Candace C. Stimson, Wellesley, '92, whose name will always ring through Wellesley history as the Chairman of the Alumnae Committee for Restoration and Endowment,—the committee that conducted the great nine months' campaign for the Fire Fund. The Faculty Committee, of five members, chose as its chairman, Professor Alice V.V. Brown, the head of the Department of Art.
Miss Stimson's report to the Graduate Council of this meeting of the joint committee with the Executive Board, indicates a "strong sense of good understanding and a feeling of great harmony and desire for cooperation on the part of Trustees toward the alumnae." The Faculty Committee and Alumnae Committee were invited to continue and to hold further conferences with the Trustees' Committee "as occasion might offer." The episode is prophetic of the future relations of these three bodies with one another. President Nichols of Dartmouth is reported as saying that Dartmouth, founded as the ideal of an individual and governed at first by one man, has grown to the point where it is no longer to be controlled as a monarchy or an empire, but as a republic. Such an utterance does not fail of its effect upon other colleges.
The women who constitute the Wellesley College Alumnae Association, numbered in 1914-1915 five thousand and thirty-five. The members are all those who have received the Baccalaureate degree from Wellesley, and all those who have received the Master's degree and have applied for membership. But only dues-paying members receive notices of meetings and have the right to vote. Non-graduates who pay the annual dues receive the Alumnae Register, and the notices and publications of the alumnae, but do not vote.
Authoritative statistics concerning the occupations of Wellesley women are not available. About forty per cent of the alumnae are married. The exact proportion of teachers is not known, but it is of course large. The Wellesley College Christian Association is of great assistance to the alumnae recorder in keeping in touch with Wellesley missionaries, but even the Christian Association disclaims infallibility in questions of numbers. An article in the News for February, 1912, by Professor Kendrick, the head of the Department of Bible Study, states that no record is kept of missionaries at work in our own country, but there were then missionaries from Wellesley in Mexico and Brazil, as well as those who were doing city missionary work in the United States. The missionary record for 1915 would seem to indicate that there were then about one hundred Wellesley women at mission stations in foreign countries, including Japan, China, Korea, India, Ceylon, Persia, Turkey, Africa, Europe, Mexico, South America, Alaska, and the Philippines.
From time to time, the alumnae section of the News publishes an article on the occupations and professions of Wellesley graduates, with incomplete lists of the names of those who are engaged in Law, Medicine, Social Work, Journalism, Teaching, Business, and all the other departments of life into which women are penetrating; and from this all too meager material, the historian is able to glean a few general facts, but no trustworthy statistics.
In 1914, the list of Wellesley women, most of whom were alumnae, at the head of private schools, included the principals of the National Cathedral School at Washington, D.C.; of Abbot Academy, Andover, Walnut Hill School, Natick, Dana Hall, the Weston School, the Longwood School, all in Massachusetts, and two preparatory schools in Boston; Buffalo Seminary; Kent Place School, and a coeducational school, both in Summit, New Jersey; Hosmer Hall, in St. Louis; Ingleside School, Taconic School and the Catherine Aiken School, in Connecticut; Science Hill, at Shelbyville, Kentucky; Ferry Hall, at Lake Forest, Illinois; the El Paso School for Girls; the Lincoln School, in Providence, Rhode Island; Wyoming Seminary, another coeducational school; as well as schools for American girls in Germany, France, and Italy. This does not take into account the many Wellesley graduates holding positions of importance in colleges, in high schools, and in the grammar and primary schools throughout the country.
The tentative list of Wellesley women holding positions of importance in social work, in 1914, is equally impressive. The head workers at Denison House,—the Boston College Settlement,—at the Baltimore Settlement, at Friendly House, Brooklyn, and Hartley House, New York, are all graduates of Wellesley. Probation officers, settlement residents, Associated Charity workers, Consumers' League secretaries, promoters of Social Welfare Work, leaders of Working Girls' Clubs, members of Trade-union Leagues and the Suffrage League, show many Wellesley names among their numbers. A Wellesley woman is working at the Hindman School in Kentucky, among the poor whites; another is General Superintendent of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; another is Associate Field Secretary of the New York Charity Organization Department of the Russell Sage Foundation; another is Head Investigator for the Massachusetts Babies' Hospital. The Superintendent of the State Reformatory for Girls at Lancaster, Massachusetts, is a Wellesley graduate who is doing work of unusual distinction in this field. Mary K. Conyngton, Wellesley, '94, took part in the Federal investigation into the condition of woman and child wage earners, ordered by Congress in 1907, and has made a study of the relations between the occupations, and the criminality, of women. Her book "How to Help", published by The Macmillan Company, embodies the results of her experience in organized charities, investigations for improved housing, and other industrial and municipal reforms. In 1909, Miss Conyngton received a permanent appointment in the Bureau of Labor at Washington, D.C.
Wellesley has her lawyers and doctors, her architects, her journalists, her scholars; every year their tribes increase. Among her many journalists are Caroline Maddocks, 1892, and Agnes Edwards Rothery, 1909.
Of her poets, novelists, short story writers, and essayists, the names of Katharine Lee Bates, Estelle M. Hurll, Abbie Carter Goodloe, Margarita Spalding Gerry, Florence Wilkinson Evans, Florence Converse, Martha Hale Shackford, Annie Kimball Tuell, Jeannette Marks, are familiar to the readers of the Atlantic, the Century, Scribner's and other magazines; and the more technical publications of Gertrude Schopperle, Laura A. Hibbard, Eleanor A. McC. Gamble, Lucy J. Freeman, Eloise Robinson, and Flora Isabel McKinnon, have won the suffrages of scholars.
Her most noted woman of letters is Katharine Lee Bates, Wellesley, '80, the beloved head of the Department of English Literature. Miss Bates's beautiful hymn, "America", has achieved the distinction of a national reputation; it has been adopted as one of America's own songs and is sung by school children all over our country. The list of her books includes, besides her collected poems, "America the Beautiful and Other Poems", published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company, volumes on English and Spanish travel, on the English Religious Drama, a Chaucer for children, an edition of the works of Hawthorne, and a forthcoming edition of the Elizabethan dramatist, Heywood. Since her undergraduate days, when she wrote the poems for Wellesley's earliest festivals, down all the years in which she has been building up her Department of English Literature, this loyal daughter has given herself without stint to her Alma Mater. In Wellesley's roll call of alumnae, there is no name more loved and honored than that of Katharine Lee Bates.
"Hear the dollars dropping, Listen as they fall. All for restoration Of our College Hall."
These words of a college song fitly express the breathless attitude of the alumnae between March 17, 1914, and January 1, 1915, the nine months and a half during which the campaign was being carried on to raise the fund for restoration and endowment, after the fire. And they did more than listen; they shook the trees on which the dollars grew, and as the dollars fell, caught them with nimble fingers. They fell "thick as leaves in Vallombrosa."
Between June, 1913, and June, 1915, $1,267,230.53 was raised by and through Wellesley women.
In 1913, a campaign for a Million Dollar Endowment Fund had been started, to provide means for increasing the salaries of the teachers. Salaries at Wellesley were at that time lower than those paid in every other woman's college, but one, in New England. The fund had been started with an anonymous gift of one hundred thousand dollars, and the committee, with Candace C. Stimson as chairman, planned to secure the one million dollars in two years. By March, 1914, a second anonymous gift of one hundred thousand dollars had been received, the General Education Board had pledged two hundred thousand dollars conditioned on the raising of the whole amount, Wellesley women had given fifteen thousand dollars, and there had been a few other gifts from outsiders. The amount still to be raised on the Million Dollar Fund at the time of the fire was five hundred and seventy thousand dollars.
President Pendleton, in a letter to Wellesley friends, printed in the News on March 28, 1914, ten days after the fire, writes: "Our Campaign for the Million Dollar Endowment Fund must not be dropped... we have between five and six hundred thousand dollars still to raise. All the new buildings must be equipped and maintained. The sum that our Alma Mater requires for immediate needs is two million dollars. But this is not all. Another million will soon be needed, properly to house our departments of Botany and Chemistry, and to provide a Student-Alumnae building, and sufficient dormitories to house on the campus the more than five hundred students now living in the village. We are facing a great crisis in the history of the College. The future of our Alma Mater is in our hands. Crippled by this loss, Wellesley cannot continue to hold in the future its place in the front rank of colleges, unless the response is generous and immediate.
"To sum up, Alma Mater needs three million dollars, two million of which must be raised immediately. Shall we be daunted by this sum? We are justly proud of the courage and self-control of those dwellers in College Hall, both Faculty and Students. Shall we be outdone by them in facing a crisis? Shall we be less courageous, less resourceful? The public press has described the fire as a triumph, not a disaster. Shall we continue the triumph, and make our College in equipment what it has proved itself in spirit—The College Beautiful? We can and we must."
The response of the alumnae to this stirring appeal was instant and ardent. The committee for the Million Dollar Endowment Fund, with its valiant chairman, Miss Stimson, shouldered the new responsibility. "It is a big contract," they said, "it comes at a season of business depression, and the daughters of Wellesley are not rich in this world's goods. All this we know, but we know, too, that the greater the need the more eagerly will love and loyalty respond."
Then came the offer of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars by the Rockefeller Foundation, if the college would raise an additional million and a quarter by January 1, 1915. The intrepid Committee of Alumnae added to its numbers, merged the two funds, and adopted the new name of Alumnae Committee for Restoration and Endowment.
Mary B. Jenkins, Wellesley, '03, the committee's devoted secretary, has described the plan of the campaign in the News for March, 1915. As the Wellesley clubs present the best chance of reaching both graduate and non-graduate members, a chairman for each club was appointed, and made responsible for reaching all the Wellesley women in her geographical section, whether they were members of the club or not. In states where there were no clubs, state committees rounded up the scattered alumnae and non-graduates. Fifty-three clubs appear in the report, twenty-four state committees, and eight foreign countries,—Canada, Mexico, Porto Rico, South America, Europe, Turkey, India, and Persia. Every state in the Union was heard from, and contributions also came from clubs in Japan and China. The campaign actually circled the globe. By June, 1914, Miss Jenkins tells us, the appeals to the clubs and state committees had been sent out, and many had been heard from, but in order to make sure that no one escaped, the work was now taken up through committees from the thirty-six classes, from 1879 to 1914. In March, 1915, when Miss Jenkins's report was printed in the News, 3823 of Wellesley's daughters had contributed, and belated contributions were still coming in. In June, 1915, 3903, out of 4840, graduates had responded. Every member of the classes of '79, '80, '81, '84, '92, sent a contribution, and the class gift from '79, $520,161.00 was the largest from any class; that of '92, $208,453.92, being the next largest. The class gifts include not only direct contributions from alumnae, and from social members who did not graduate with the class, but gifts which alumnae and former students have secured from interested friends. Of the remaining classes, five show a contributing list of more than ninety per cent of the members; eleven show between eighty and ninety per cent; and fifteen between seventy and eighty per cent. Besides the alumnae, 1119 non-graduates had contributed. None of Wellesley's daughters have been more loyal and more helpful than the non-graduates.
An analysis of the amount, $1,267,230.53, given by and through Wellesley women between June, 1913, and June, 1915, shows four gifts of fifty thousand dollars and over, all of which came through Wellesley women, thirty gifts of from two thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand dollars, three quarters of which came from Wellesley women, and many gifts of less than two thousand dollars, "only a negligible quantity of which came from any one but alumnae and former students."
Throughout the nine months of the campaign, the Alumnae Committee and the trustees were working in close touch with each other. Doctor George Herbert Palmer, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Harvard, was the chairman of the committee from the trustees, and he describes himself as chaperoned by alumnae at every point of the tour which he so successfully undertook in order to interview possible contributors. To him, to Bishop Lawrence, the President of the Board of Trustees, and to Mr. Lewis Kennedy Morse, the treasurer, the college owes a debt of gratitude which it can never repay. No knight of old ever succored distressed damsel more valiantly, more selflessly, than these three twentieth-century gentlemen succored and served the beggar maid, Wellesley, in the cause of higher education. Through the activities of the trustees were secured the provisional gifts of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars from the Rockefeller Foundation, and two hundred thousand dollars from the General Education Board, Mr. Andrew Carnegie's $95,446.27, to be applied to the extension of the library, and gifts from Mrs. Russell Sage, Mrs. David P. Kimball, and many others. Mrs. Lilian Horsford Farlow, a trustee, and the daughter of Prof. Eben N. Horsford, to whom Wellesley is already deeply indebted, gave ten thousand dollars toward the Fire Fund; and through Mrs. Louise McCoy North, trustee and alumna, an unknown benefactor has given the new building which stands on the hill above the lake. Because of the modesty of donors, it has been impossible to make public a complete list of the gifts.
From the four undergraduate classes, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, and from general undergraduate gifts and activities, came $60,572.04, raised in all sorts of ways,—from the presentation of "Beau Brummel" before a Boston audience, to the polishing of shoes at ten cents a shine. One 1917 girl earned ten dollars during the summer vacation by laughing at all her father's jokes, whether old or new, during that period of recreation. Other enterprising sophomores "swatted" flies at the rate of one cent for two, darned stockings for five cents a hole, shampooed, mended, raked leaves. Members of the class of 1916 sold lead pencils and jelly, scrubbed floors, baked angel cake, counted knot holes in the roof of a summer camp. Besides "Beau Brummel", 1915 gave dancing lessons and sold vacuum cleaners. One student who was living in College Hall at the time of the fire is said to have made ten dollars by charging ten cents for every time that she told of her escape from the building. The class of 1918, entering as freshmen in September, after the fire, raised $5,540.60 for the fund when they had been organized only a few weeks.
The methods of the alumnae were no less varied and amusing. The Southern California Club started a College Hall Fund, and notices were sent out all over the country requesting every alumna to give a dollar for every year that she had lived in College Hall. Seven hundred and fifty dollars came in. There were thes dansants, musicales, concerts, of which the Sousa concert in Boston was the most important, operettas, masques, garden parties, costume parties, salad demonstrations, candy sales, bridge parties; a moving-picture film of Wellesley went the rounds of many clubs, from city to city, through New England and the Middle West. An alumna of the class of 1896 "took in" $949.20 for subscriptions to magazines, with a profit of $175.75 for the fund. She comments on Wellesley taste in magazines by revealing the fact that the Atlantic Monthly "received by far the largest number of subscriptions." One girl in Colorado baked bread, "but forsook it to give dancing lessons, as paying even better!" In New York, Chicago, and other cities, the tickets for theatrical performances were bought up and sold again at advanced prices. A book of Wellesley recipes was compiled and sold. An alumna of '92 made a charming etching of College Hall and sold it on a post card; another, also of '92, wrote and sold a poem of lament on the loss of the dear old building. The Cincinnati Wellesley Club held a Wellesley market for three Saturdays in May, 1914, and netted somewhat over seventy-five dollars a day for the three days. One Wellesley club charged ten cents for the privilege of shaking hands with its "fire-heroine."
On Easter Monday, 1914, when the college had just come back to work, after the fire, the "Freeman Fowls" arranged an egg hunt, with egg-shaped tickets at ten cents, for the fund. The students from Freeman Cottage, dressed as roosters, very scarlet as to topknot and wattles, very feather dustery as to tail, waylaid the unwary on campus paths and lured them to buy these tickets and to hunt for the hundreds of brightly colored eggs which these commercially canny fowls had hidden on the Art Building Hill. After the hunt was successfully over, the hunters came down to the front of the new, very new, administration building, already called the Wellesley Hencoop, where they were greeted by the ghosts and wraiths and other astral presentments of the vanished statues of College Hall, and where the roosters burst into an antiphonal chant:
"Come see the Wellesley Chicken-coop, the Chicken-coop, the Chicken-coop. Come see the Wellesley Chicken-coop, (It isn't far from Chapel!) Come get your tickets for a roost, and give Your chicken-hearts a boost, Come see our Wellesley Chicken-roost, (It isn't far from Chapel!)
"Just see our brand new Collegette, it's College yet, it's College yet, With sixty-six new rooms to let, (They're practicing in Billings). The Collegette is very tall, It isn't far from Music Hall, Our neighbors can't be heard at all (They learn to sing at Billings).
"Oh, statues dear from College Hall, from College Hall, from College Hall, Don't hesitate to come and call On Hen-House day at Wellesley. Niobe sad, and Harriet, and Polly Hym and Dian's pet On Hen-House day,—on Hen-House day, O! Hen-House day at Wellesley. Come walk right through the big front door, Each hour we love you more and more, There's fire-escapes from every floor Of the new Hen-house at Wellesley."
Having thus formally adopted the new building, whose windows and doors were already wreathed in vines and crimson (paper) roses which had sprung up and blossomed over night, the college now hastened to the top of College Hall Hill, whence, at the crowing of Chanticleer, the egg-rolling began. The Nest Egg for the fund, achieved by these enterprising "Freeman Fowls", was about fifty-two dollars.
Far off in Honolulu there were "College Capers" in which eight Wellesley alumnae, helped by graduates of Harvard, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, and other colleges, earned three hundred dollars.
The News has published a number of letters whose simple revelation of feeling witnesses to the loyalty and love of the Wellesley alumnae. One writes:
"A month ago, because of obligations and a very small salary, I thought I could give nothing to the Endowment Plan. By Saturday morning (after the fire) I had decided I must give a dollar a month. By night I had received a slight increase in salary, therefore l shall send two dollars a month as long as I am able. I wish it were millions, my admiration and sympathy are so unbounded."
Another says: "Perhaps you may know that when I was a Senior I received a scholarship of (I think) $350. It has long been my wish and dream to return that money with large interest, in return for all I received from my Alma Mater, and in acknowledgment of the success I have since had in my work because of her. I have never been able to lay aside the sum I had wished to give, but now that the need has come I can wait no longer, I am therefore sending you my check for $500, hoping that even this sum, so small in the face of the immense loss, may aid a little because it comes at the right moment. It goes with the wish that it were many, many times the amount, and with the sincerest acknowledgment of my indebtedness to Wellesley."
From China came the message: "In an indefinite way I had intended to send five or ten dollars some time this year (to the Endowment Fund), but the loss of College Hall makes me realize afresh what Wellesley has meant to me, and I want to give till I feel the pinch. I am writing (the treasurer of the Mission Board) to send you five dollars a month for ten months."
From nearer home: "My sister and I intend to go without spring suits this year in order to give twenty-five dollars each toward the fund; this surely will not be sacrifice, but a great privilege. Then we intend to add more each time we receive our salary.... I cannot say that I was so brave as the girls at the college, who did not shed a tear as College Hall burned—I could not speak, my voice was so choked with tears, and that night I went supperless to bed. But though it seems impossible to believe that College Hall is a thing of the past, yet one cannot but feel that from this so great calamity great good will come—a broader, higher spirit will be manifested; we shall cease to think in classes, but all unite in great loving thought for the good and the upbuilding—in more senses than one—of our Alma Mater."
And the messages and money from friends of the college were no less touching. The children of the Wellesley Kindergarten, which is connected with the Department of Education in the college, held a sale of their own little handicrafts and made fifty dollars for the fund.
One who signed himself, "Very respectfully, A Working Man," wrote: "The results of your college's work show that it is of the best. The Student Government is one of the finest things in American education. The spirit shown at the fire and since is superb."
Another man, who wished that he "had a daughter to go to Wellesley, the college of high ideals," said, "I should be ashamed even to ride by in the train without contributing this mite to your Rebuilding Fund."
A woman in Tasmania sent a dollar, "for you are setting a great ideal for the broad education of women.... We (in Australia) have much to thank the higher democratic education of America for."
From many little children money came: from little girls who hoped to come to Wellesley some day, and from the sons and daughters of Wellesley students.
The business men of Wellesley town subscribed generously. Many men as well as women have expressed their admiration of the college in a tangible way.
And from Vassar, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Barnard, Wells, Simmons, and Sweet Briar, contributions came pouring in unsolicited. Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts, and others had already loaned equipment and material for the impoverished laboratories, and direct contributions to the fund came from the University of Idaho, the Musical Clubs of Dartmouth and the Institute of Technology; from Hobart College, in cooperation with Wellesley alumnae, in Geneva, New York; from the Emerson College of Oratory, the College Club of Tucson, Arizona, the Boston and Connecticut branches of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the Fitchburg Smith College Club, and the Cornell Woman's Club of New York City. To Smith College, which had so lately raised its million, Wellesley was also indebted for helpful suggestions in planning the campaign.
When the great war broke out in August, 1914, wise unbelievers shook their heads and commiserated Wellesley; but the dauntless Chairman of the Alumnae Restoration and Endowment Committee continued to press on with her campaign—to draw dilatory clubs into line, to prod sluggish classes into activity, to remind individuals of their opportunity.
The pledges for the last forty thousand dollars of the fund came snowing in during Christmas week, and eleven o'clock of the evening of December 31, 1914, found Miss Stimson's committee in New York counting at top speed the sheaves of checks and pledges which had been arriving all day. The remarkable thing about the campaign was the great number of small amounts which came in, and the number of alumnae—not the wealthy ones—who doubled their pledges at the last minute. It was the one dollar and the five-dollar pledges which really saved the day and made it possible for the college to secure the large conditional gifts. On the morning of January 1, 1915, the amount was complete.
With 1915, Wellesley enters upon the second phase of her history, but the early, formative years will always shine through the fire, a memory and an inspiration. Nothing that was vital perished in those flames. Yet already the Wellesley that looks back upon her old self is a different Wellesley. All her repressed desires, spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, are suddenly set free. Her lovers and her daughters feel the very campus kindle and quicken beneath their feet to new responsibilities.
"The New Wellesley!"
No one knows what that shall be, but the words are vision-filled: prophetic of an ordered beauty of architecture, a harmony of taste, that the old Wellesley, on the far side of the fire, strove after but never knew; prophetic of a pinnacled and aspiring scholarship whose solid foundations were laid forty years deep in Christian trust and patience; prophetic of a questing spirit freed from the old reproach of provincialism; of a ministering spirit in which the virtue of true courtesy is fulfilled.
The end of her first half century will see the campus flowering with the outward and visible signs of the new Wellesley; and even as the old fire-hallowed bricks have made beautiful the new walls, so the beauty of the old dreams shall shine in the new vision.
"Pageant of fretted roofs that cluster* On hill and knoll in the branches green, Ye are but shadows, and not the luster, Garment, ye, of a grace unseen.
"All our life is confused with fable, Ever the fact as the phantasy seems: Yet the world of spirit lies sure and stable, Under the shows of the world of dreams.
"Not an idle and false derision The rocks that crumble, the stars that fail; Meaning caskets within the vision, Shaping the folds of the woven veil."
* Katharine Lee Bates: from a poem, "The College Beautiful," 1886.